It's no secret by now, unless you've been living under a rock, that technology is on a rapidly accelerating trend towards mobile. In fact, more specifically, wearable technology. Pebble was the first to seriously enter the smart watch category with their crowd funding success. We've trended from web, to mobile web, to apps, and now to wearable tech like Google Glass and the widely anticipated second stab at the smart watch from Samsung. Just recently, Facebook announced that users are engaging more through the mobile app than through the web interface. And of course, they did just pay $19 billion for a popular mobile experience. Is this trend simply because we all have smartphones? Maybe it is. But I think there is something else significant.
Mobile apps, by nature, must be more streamlined. They aren't bloated with adds and useless information. On mobile devices, we can only use one app at a time (nobody uses the Samsung split screen feature), which drives focus and clarity. So maybe we use mobile apps more because they are cleaner and easier to engage with. Maybe we just like the experience better? I've sat five feet from my iMac many times and used my phone instead. Chicken and the egg aside, this is all significant. You see, there is another trend worth noting besides the fact that people love mobile technology. The constant progression towards smaller, more convenient, more specialized, technology is also driving a trend towards simplicity in UX and design.
The constant progression towards smaller, more convenient, more specialized, technology is also driving a trend towards simplicity in UX and design.
As devices get smaller, engineers and UX developers are being challenged to create experiences that are easier to use, access, and engage. This demands the art of simplicity. Not dumbed down, but cleaner and more refined. There is less and less room for bloat in every way. Consider products such as Google glass, Samsung Gear Fit, or Android integration into a car. Though users may constantly reference and engage this technology, the attention span is very brief. There is no time for extra menus, meaningless buttons, or unnecessary pop-up windows. Screens are getting smaller and more unique with curves and transparency. Users with this technology need to access specific information very quickly. Communication must happen through less words and more visuals.
The significance for us is in the changing expectations of our culture. As people begin to spend their lives interacting with simple technology, they will expect the same from other experiences. We are rapidly progressing towards a culture of simplicity and design thinking. People will unintentionally expect experiences of all kinds to present the same type of predictive, no nonsense, straight forward, beautifully crafted, unique, interface. Whether it's at church on Sunday, staying at a hotel for business, or visiting your corporate website, this is the journey that we're on. People don't want to be impressed, they want to be engaged.